The academic code of conduct
One of the most important rules of the academic code of conduct is that you have to be able to document where you have your knowledge from. This is important if people should be able to trust your work, and the work must be fair and valid. So you may not cheat with your results: edit them or make something up for the occasion - and you may not make use of other's or your own results without stating your source.
Be accurate when citing your references
When you draw on other's work - no matter if you are referring, paraphrasing or citing, you must be accurate when stating your sources. Accurate source references are important for several reasons in academia. First and foremost, it is considered good practice to credit others for their effort and work, when you make use of it. Also, you need to consider your readers. Your readers will be interested to see which sources from the course or research field, you apply in your paper. Your readers will also be interested in seeing which results are your own and when you have been inspired by others. In academia citing others is no shame, rather the contrary. Citing others can show that you have an overview of the field and that you are familiar with the field's research to date. However, you need to use your references actively, and your own contribution must of course weigh the heaviest in your paper.
When you work with academic papers, you have to consider yourself as a future researcher. Other researchers can be inspired by your work and have an interest in repeating your experiment or make use of it. In this case it is crucial to be able to localize the sources and materials that you have used.
Citing common knowledge?
When referring to common knowledge, you don't have to cite a source. Knowledge is common when it is considered to be shared by everyone within a certain group or community. This knowledge can consist of generally known facts relating to e.g. geography, history, physics, language or literature. In Denmark, for example, the fact that the Aarhus is the next biggest city in Denmark and the fact that Helle Thorning Schmidt was the first Danish female prime minister would both count as common knowledge. Within an academic community, common knowledge can be regarded as knowledge which forms the basis of a subject area and which is assumed to be shared by everyone within that field. In both of the above cases it would normally not be necessary to state the source. However, whether or not it is necessary to state the source will always depend on the context and the traditions within the subject. If you're in doubt, better make that extra citation.
Choose a reference style
When creating source references, you have to be consequent. Most follow a specific reference style. A reference style is a set of rules for how to write references in the reference list as well as how to note them in the text. There are several different reference styles. None of them are wrong, but some are more appropriate for one field of study than another. The education programs can have different expectations to what style they recommend, so ask your programme coordinator what applies to you. Read more about reference styles at Cite it right.
Over all principles for the use of references
- Quotes must be noted as such in the text, and the source of the quote must appear in the reference list.
- The sources in the list of references must consist of the elements Who(author), When(year), What(title) and Where(source).
- When using other's terms, facts or argumentation, you must mark it according to the rules of the chosen reference style in the text as well as in reference list.
- If you want to refer to one of your previous papers, the paper should be treated like your other source material. This means that you should make a reference to yourself in the text, and the previous work you are citing must be mentioned in the reference list even when was e.g. an exam paper and therefore not available for the public. If you don't do this, you can be accused of self-plagiarism.
- For unpublished material: other people's examination assignments, oral messages and course slides, the same applies as for direct quotation. (Be aware that in some programmes, it is considered inappropriate to refer to presentations or slides from a lecture.)
- If you are referring to or citing webpages, you should treat these as any other material with accurate source information including the direct URL of the website.
Concerning quotations, you should also be aware of the following:
- Depending on the chosen reference style, the layout rules can differ. The APA style e.g. has very strict layout rules for citations, and the rules differ when marking a short quote (less than 40 words) or a long quote (40 words or more).
- If you add or edit the quote, you should note it in square brackets [xxx].
- If you remove words or sentences, you should mark it using square brackets with ellipsis [...].
- If you translate or edit (e.g. old) language in a citation, making it readable, the information about what you have done, should appear after the quote in a parenthesis, e.g. "my translation", "spelling modernized", etc.
- If a quoted passage contains one or more misspellings, it must be quoted with the original typos. You should only edit the passage if it is disruptive to the context. And if you edit it, you should mark that you have done so in square brackets [...].
One of the most important preconditions for being able to cite your sources correctly is a good note-taking technique. I.e. each time you find or use someone else's grain of gold, remember to note where you got it from; which work it is from - and on which page. If you want to learn more, you can lend books at the library about Note-taking technique.
Plagiarism and fraud
If you do not comply with the rules for the use of references and you do not cite your sources properly, you may be accused of plagiarism - no matter if it is done deliberately or not. You can learn more about Plagiarism on our websites and Fraud on the programmes' websites. You can also lend books about Plagiarism at the library.